NOTE: Hearings resume at 0900 hours (9 am) this morning, Friday, 16 January 2009. Lorne McConnery is back on the stand. He should be wrapped up and ready to head home to Barrie, Ontario by noon. They say two hours of cross-examination left. Noon should do it.
It’s Friday. Hearings will run through lunch with only a short break, and then away they go mid afternoon to hop into their planes, trains and automobiles to their respective homes throughout Ontario.
Bitterly bitterly cold today. A neighbour’s outdoor thermometer reads -37 C!!!
No transcripts yet. I have been checking and checking and they aren’t posted yet. Will get them up as soon as I can.
I re-posted the Pelletier-Griffiths memo. I decided while I was fixing things up to convert it to a text file. It’s much easier to read, plus is now ready for me to insert my comments para by para 🙂
When I get that done remains to be seen, but I will do my best.
I haven’t recapped yesterday’s testimony. I got tied up with the business of converting the memo and compiling what I will probably call the “conflict” list.
I got going on this during Lorne McConnery’s testimony on Wednesday. I was caught by the fact that when he first took over as prosecutor for Charlie’s case he allegedly knew very little about Cornwall, and then at some point when he was asked to review six Project Truth files for an opinion it was deemed necessary to call in an “outsider” for a second opinion on his opinions.
What caught my ear particularly was the notion that someone in “the system” recognized and acted on a real or perceived conflict of interest, – and then acted, and all because of a personal contact which, as basically stated by McConnery, can only be described as minimal, to the extreme.
That got me thinking hard. It just sounded so terribly foreign. For Cornwall.
So, I started making a list of the Cornwall conflicts I know of off the top of my head, a list of those persons or insitutions which have a real or perceived conflict and either ingored it or acknowledged it and then more or less carried on as usual.
The list is the start. It is far from complete.
I have a little extra on Lorne McConnery because as I worked I was pondering and checking his testimony. The more I pondered the stranger it all seemed. This is how it ended up. As time goes by I will whittle the whole thing down and tighten it up, but I want to get it out so people can see the real or perceived potential for tainting the views and opinions of police officers, Crowns and judges from within. All it takes is one to put out the spin, or start a character assassination ball rolling, and it will travel.
With that, a layman’s look at
The Cornwall Conflict List
(1) Murray MacDonald
We have heard evidence that Murray MacDonald had been involved with the Father Charles MacDonald sex abuse allegations in some fashion throughout the 1993 “investigation” conducted by the Cornwall Police Service. In fact Murray was directing Heidi Sebalj’ “investigation.”
According to notes entered into evidence Murray MacDonald declared he had a conflict of interest. He allegedly said that he would turn the file over to an “outside” Crown when the time was right. It was understood that the “outside” Crown would be LÓrignal Crown Robert Pelletier and that Murray had discussed the case with him.
When Murray took the stand he said that he didn’t see the situation as a conflict of interest at all and said that he probably wouldn’t have used that word. He denied he would ever have said he was in a conflict of interest situation but rather that he had a concern that if the case ever moved to charges people might say he was on a witch hunt against the Church and that that was because he was biased because of his prior involvement with a Church committee.
Murray saw no problem advising and directing Constable Heidi Sebalj for the previous months. Nor did he have a concern that his involvement with the investigation itself would be perceived as bias.
According to his testimony Murray gave Pelletier a “heads up” during the 1993 Spring Crown’s conference. At that time Pelletier was apparently advised that if the Cornwall police developed a case that moved toward charges against Charlie, he, Pelletier, would be asked to review the file for reasonable prospect of conviction and prosecute if necessary.
Pelletier was a close friend of Murray. In fact, Pelletier was Murray’s Best Man. I think it goes without saying that in calling in his best friend Murray would in no way shape or form be giving up and/or losing control.
(2) Robert Pelletier
As noted, Robert Pelletier was a good friend of Murray MacDonald. Pelletier was initially called in by Murray on consult re Charlie’s file. He eventually took the file, and stayed with the file – until the preliminary inquiry at which time he was suddenly voicing concerns about his conflict of interest, that being his friendship with Murray.
He stayed on at the preliminary hearings. And Peter Griffiths left him on the case. (Griffiths was then Director of Crowns for the Eastern Region. He is now Associate Chief Justice for the Ontario Court of Justice.)
Good friends talk.
(i) Did Murray MacDonald confide his negative assessment of David Silmser to Pelletier? Ditto his take on the CPS “investigation” into David Silmser’s sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald? Ditto his opinions on Perry Dunlop.
(ii) And, did Pelletier keep his good friend Murray apprised of the goings on with Charlie’s “prosecution.”
(3) Pelletier/Perry Death Threats
Robert Pelletier took the death threats against Perry Dunlop. This despite (i) his friendship with Murray, and (ii) the fact that Murray MacDonald was allegedly a friend of Charlie and Ken Seguin, and (iii) the fact that his good friend Murray one of the VIPs who allegedly ‘conspired’ to see the charges against Charlie taken care of.
Griffiths knew all of the above. If he didn’t know before 02 April 1997 he did then. And still Griffiths left Pelletier to handle the death threats against Perry and the Dunlop family.
Did Griffiths truly think for one moment that Murray MacDonald would say not a word to Pelletier? Or vice versa? The pair were, after all, best of friends.
But, Pelletier carried on. He eventually concluded it was not in the public interest to pursue the matter – despite the fact that Ron Leroux had reported seeing Murray head off to the VIP meeting on Stanley Island.
(4) Peter Griffiths
In 1993 Peter Griffiths gave advice to then Cornwall Crown attorney Murray MacDonald regarding the $32,000 pay-off.
Griffiths had friendships with both Murray MacDonald and Robert Pelletier.
Griffiths also provided opinions on the three 1994 OPP investigations: (i) David Silmser’s sex abuse allegations against Father Charlie, (2) the allegations of extortion against David Silmser, and (3) the allegations of conspiracy. No charges were laid. In the latter Griffiths wrote:
“There’s no evidence that any representative of the Church contacted the Crown attorney or the officers in charge of that investigation to improperly influence either of those individuals to stop a valid investigation.”
In late 1997 or early 1998 then Cornwall Crown attorney Murray MacDonald decided he didn’t want to deal with any cases investigated by Constable Perry Dunlop. Murray consulted with Griffiths and an arrangement was made for assistant Crown Guy Simard to handle Perry’s investigations. The arrangement further stipulated that Perry was to be accompanied by his supervisor or Sgt. Malloy when he met with the Crown Griffiths was hands on in getting Project Truth launched, this despite his prior dealings with Murray MacDonald and his negative legal opinions on the 1994 OPP investigation into (i) David Silmser’s sex abuse allegations, and (ii) possible conspiracy between the diocese, the Crown and/or Cornwall police officers to halt the criminal investigation into allegations against Father Charlie.
(i) Why was Peter Griffiths involved in any way shape or form in getting Project Truth off the ground?
(ii Why did Griffiths invite Murray MacDonald to the 24 April 1997 meeting knowing full well that Murray was implicated in the scandal? If, as he says, it was to tell Murray he was not to be involved, why make everyone uncomfortable? And why risk tipping a suspect off by slipping up on something vital while all are chattering? Would logic and courtesy not say meet with Murray personally and privately after the meeting ?
(iii) Why, knowing full well that Pelletier was a very close friend Murray MacDonald, did Griffiths allow the LÓrignal Crown to handle the prosecution of Father Charles MacDonald? Why, knowing as he did that Murray had been deeply involved in the 1993 Cornwall police criminal “investigation” of Charlie and held strong negative opinions of David Silmser which he would probably share with his close friend?
(5) Tim Smith
Tim Smithwas a friend of Robert Pelletier.
Smith was assigned to and headed up the 1994 OPP investigation in 1994, the one which concluded no conspiracy and no grounds to charge Charlie.
Despite his negative findings in 1994 Smith was assigned to head up the Project Truth probe in 1996.
(i) Did everyone involved in putting Smith at the helm truly think that he would clear his 1994 memory bank and start anew?
(ii) Did they truly think Smith would head up the Project Truth probe and set out to prove he and his colleagues had it all wrong back in 1994?
(5)Pat Hall was a friend of Pelletier and Tim Smith.
Pat Hall was assigned to the Project Truth probe. After Smith retired Hall was the head man.
Do you think for one moment that Tim Smith didn’t relay the biases he had formed during his 1994 OPP “investigation”? Do you think for a moment Smith would tell Hall he, Smith, had perhaps erred in his previous “investigation”? Do you think for one moment Smith did not relate his negative thoughts and feelings regarding Perry Dunlop and David Silmser to Hall?
OPP officers from the surrounding detachments were part of the Project Truth team. They were from what is considered the Cornwall area. They worked hand in glove with both Cornwall Police Service and Cornwall Crown Murray MacDonald in the past.
(7) Colin McKinnon
Colin McKinnon was assigned to the Jacques Leduc Project Truth sex abuse trial. He was called in as an “outside” judge” presumably to ensure impartiality. He took the bench despite his countless conflicts of interest related to Claude Shaver, the Cornwall Police Service, and Father Charlie.
Colin McKinnon and Curt Flanaganknow each other from Flanagan’s articling days.
McKinnon, along with Dalton McGuinty were participants at the roast of then Ottawa Chief of Police Curt Flanagan. McGuinty at the time was a local lawyer.
Colin McKinnon, James Chadwick and Dan Chilcott were elected as benchers to the Law Society of Upper in 1987 in which they were, according to Chadwick “a packaged deal from Ottawa” for which “We campaigned hard.”
(8) Justice James Chadwick
Justice Chadwick was called in to replace McKinnon at the Leduc “trial,” that after McKinnon was confronted publicly with a few of his known conflicts and obliged to recuse himself
Chadwick and McKinnon were part of the “packaged deal” from Ottawa. Good friends without doubt.
I believe I recall McKinnon informing those in the courtroom one day that he had contacted Chadwick. I was told by the Canadian Judicial Council that the decision was made by “Senior Justice Cunningham.”
Did McKinnon have a say in his replacement?
That aside, the pair are friends. How much chatter transpired between the pair about Jacques Leduc and Perry Dunlop?
(9) Justice Terence Platana
Justice Terence Platana was assigned to the second Leduc “trial.”
Platana was presumably called in as an “outside” judge from Thunder Bay, Ontario. He took the bench despite the fact his wife is a born and bred Cornwall area girl and his father-in-law was both an avid golfer and extremely active in the community.
That I believe speaks for itself.
Platana refused to allow Perry to seek the services of and retain a personal lawyer when he , Perry, was being drawn and quartered in the courtroom.
(10) Justice Dan Chilcott
Justice Platana took the “trial” of Father Charles MacDonald which amounted to a successful an 11 (b) hearing to allow Charlie to “walk” because his Charter rights to a speedy trial had been violated.
Chilcott is friends with McKinnon. As mentioned above, Colin McKinnon, James Chadwick and Dan Chilcott were elected as benchers to the Law Society of Upper in 1987 in which they were, according to Chadwick “a packaged deal from Ottawa” for which “We campaigned hard.”
Chilcott was Neville’s choice as judge. After one judge was replaced pre-trial because of concerns of conflict another was appointed to replace him. Neville was apparently unhappy. He told assistant Crown Lorne McConnery that he would prefer someone like Chilcott.
Apparently Justice Cunningham called Neville in and the matter was discussed. Chilcott was appointed.
(11) Curt Flanagan
Brockville Crown attorney Curt Flanagan “prosecuted” Cornwall layer and former Crown attorney Malcolm MacDonald on a charge of obstruct justice. Flanagan was happy to go for an absolute discharge given, in part, Malcolm’s “exemplary” background. Flanagan was likewise happy to exonerate both other lawyers – Sean Adams and Jacques Leduc – involved in brokering the deal and excuse their actions or inactions.
Flanagan was consulted on a number of Project Truth cases, this despite his favourable bias towards at least two key players in the Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up, namely Jacques Leduc and Malcolm MacDonald.
(12) Lorne McConnery
Barrie, Ontario assistant Crown Lorne McConnery was brought in to handle Charlie’s prosecution after both Pelletier and Shelley Hallett disappeared from the scene. It was apparently Jim Stewart, then Director of Crowns for the Eastern Region (replacing Griffiths), who requested McConnery come from Barrie, Ontario do the prosecution.
In addition to the prosecution McConnery was asked shortly after his arrival in Ottawa, and apparently at Murray Segal’s directive, to review and give an opinion on a Project Truth conspiracy brief and five or other investigative briefs which were outstanding. (Murray Segal has been a constant presence in the Attorney General’s office throughout the unfolding Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up. As a civil servant he has remained in the office throughout various governments. He is currently Deputy Attorney General)
McConnery testified that he knew really nothing about Cornwall when he was first assigned.
He said knew Murray MacDonald personally – but, he said, “I did not know him well.” According to McConnery he once worked with Murray on a Cornwall homicide case when Murray was assistant Crown and “I had probably spoken to him three times.”
McConnery and “a senior Ministry person,” decided it would be necessary to call in “an outsider” to review the conspiracy file and by extension a bunch of the other files. That decision was taken, according to McConnery, because he knew Murray MacDonald.
We have learned that the “outsider” was retired Justice W. David Griffiths (no relation to Justice Peter Griffiths) then practising with the Law firm ADR Chambers, a firm comprised of “retired judges, experienced lawyers and other dispute resolution professionals.”
I know nothing of W. David Griffiths aside the fact someone decided he was the man to review the files, and that the review was supposed to be kept hush hush, and, since I have heard nothing to the contrary, that Griffiths concurred with McConnery’s opinion – or McConnery with Griffiths?
All very bizarre indeed. All the more so when we learn that the AG’s office is claiming privilege on the documents which McConnery packed off to assist in the review, and that in his hand written notes he had apparently diligently listed the documents he shipped off to the law firm only it seems to discover on the stand that the AG lawyers have redacted the list because they are claiming privilege. Add to that that McConnery tesitief he had been keeping detailed notes in part because he thought there might be an inquiry, but also in part to aid the “outsider” review. And add to that that he had meetings with the ADR people but insists that his final opinions were his own and not those of ADR or anyone else.
Truly bizarre. In a scandal where conflict of interest is virtually the status quo this business of McConnery knowing Murray MacDonald just a little but still enough to hire an “outsider” for a second or parallel opinion is a puzzler. Equally puzzling is the cloak of secrecy surrounding the “outsider.” McConnery was talking about sending materials to “that law firm,” and Kloeze (AG) popped up on the privilege business and referred to “that law firm.” There was no reference to a lawyer or Griffiths. It was only when John Callaghan asked for some clarity about who ‘assisted’ McConnery that we learned from Kloeze that it was, as Callagahn had blurted onto the record a few days prior, Justice W. David Griffiths:
MR. KLOEZE: I apologize. I may have misspoke. Indeed it was Mr. Justice Griffiths who I believe at that time was part of the ADR chambers.
And at that McConnery piped in:
MR. McCONNERY: Just to correct something; he didn’t assist me in anything that I did.
Oh my dear goodness! All this because McConnery talked to Murray MacDonald about three times and then took on the role of prosecutor for Charlie and agreed to review some files?
Anyway, more possible connections…
During his testimony we heard that McConnery is well acquainted with Brockville Crown attorney Curt Flanagan. He knows him “very well.”
How well is very well? Is that very well as in very good friends?
I’m not sure. It sounded that way.
And some questions here:
(i) Why did Jim Stewart want McConnery to handle Charlie’s prosecution.
(ii) Are Stewart and McConnery friends?
(iii) Why did McConnery agree to take the prosecution? He knew he knew Murray MacDonald. If those three encounters were going to prove problematic, why did he agree to touch anything from Cornwall?
(iv) When did the “senior Ministry” person find out that McConnery “knew’ Murray? And why didn’t he yank him on the spot?
(v) Are Flanagan and McConnery well enough acquainted and good enough friends to chatter about Flanagan’s take on things Cornwall?
An interesting addendum on this…
Around December 2004 Dick Nadeau posted the following on his projecttruth2.com website:
I suggest an immediate investigation of Jim Stewart’s office. As the director of Crown Operations, he would be a start. He is solely responsible for the appointments of all those abysmal Crowns in the Project Truth trials. Why???
And rumour has it that Murray MacDonald, our local Crown, is slated to take Jim’s place when he retires. Robert Pelletier who was the original Project Truth Crown, was removed for conflict of interest. He had been Murray’s best man at his wedding. Our supposed lawyer Howard Yegendorf even tried to protect him by having his name removed from an affidavit. Too many connections here to ignore.
(13) OPP officers
OPP officers from the surrounding detachments were part of the Project Truth team. They were from what is considered the Cornwall area. Many had worked hand in glove with both Cornwall Police Service and Cornwall Crown Murray MacDonald in the past.
These officers were assigned to the probe despite the fact that both the Cornwall Police Service and then Cornwall Crown attorney were implicated in the allegations of a ring and cover-up which was presumably to be investigated by the probe.
Why then did Detective Inspector Smith pick police officers from the greater Cornwall area to work on the Project Truth probe?
(14) Cornwall Police Service officers
CPS officers liaised with the Ottawa-Carleton police officers who “investigated” in 1994, the OPP officers who “investigated” after the Ottawa-Carleton officers in 1994, and the Project Truth officers.
It mattered not that the CPS itself, some of its members and its former Chief were implicated in sex abuse scandal and cover-up and was therefore, to varying degrees with the respective teams, under investigation. They liaised.
(15) Justice Normand Glaude
Justice Normand Glaude was assigned to and took on the task as commissioner for the Cornwall Public Inquiry. The people of Cornwall had explicitly asked for a commissioner with no Cornwall connections. They were essentially told that Glaude filled the bill.
Glaude was appointed and took on the duties of commissioner despite the fact that (i) his family roots run deep in the Cornwall area, (ii) his father having been born and raised in St. Raphael’s, and (iii) his extended members of Glaude’s family still live in the area, and (iv) two males from his extended family in Cornwall have come forward with sex abuse allegations.
Commissioner Glaude, attained his LLB from Ottawa U in 1980! One year before Dalton McGuinty for sure, and possibly one year before Curt Flanagan – OR, or …..at the same time as Flanagan.
Other real and perceived conflicts are recounted in the Red Flag Committee’s September 2005 letter asking the commissioner to recuse himself.
And that’s more than enough for now,